Gilgit is the capital city of Gilgit-Baltistan and home to seven beautiful languages, with Shina as the lingua franca. Among the other six languages is Burushaski, a language incredibly unique due to its not belonging to any known family of languages. It was in this city of particularly unique linguistic diversity that FLI held a six day workshop titled “Planning for the Future of Your Language” specifically intended for the Shina speech community in mid-July. Four members from the Shina speech community participated in the program, giving their full time and attention during these six days to identifying the current status of their language. They also committed to play any role they can to bring their mother tongue to a point first of sustainable orality, then sustainable literacy. The participants included young journalists, a drama writer, students, and a poet of Urdu and Shina. The FLI team was glad to work with a group of enthusiastic people who loved their culture and language and were eager to help them reach their goals for their mother tongue.
The FLI team also met various people during the advocacy meeting that was held concurrent with the workshop, which included a visit to Karakuram International University, Gilgit. FLI plans to hold an MLE conference in this prestigious university next year, and in order to gather information and build relationships toward that purpose, they met with several relevant people and discussed related issues with them.
As part of this group of activities in Gilgit, FLI held a half day seminar for the local journalists in Gilgit on 27 July 2016. The program was held at the Gilgit Press Club and all the members of the local journalist’s forum were invited, more than two dozen of whom attended the event. The purpose of the Media Seminar was to sensitize the journalist fraternity towards the regional languages of Gilgit-Baltistan and issues related to these language communities. Various presentations were given on these regional languages, their issues and potential positive ways of addressing these issues, the impact of early childhood mother tongue based multilingual education, and the role of the media in the preservation and promotion of regional languages. UNESCO’s short film on MTB-MLE was also displayed. As a result of this event, many journalists of Gilgit are now aware of their languages’ assets and have resolved to highlight the issues of local language communities in the future. They were asked to press their policy makers to legislate in favor of language promotion in Gilgit-Baltistan. These FLI activities in Gilgit were well covered by the local media and seemed to be appreciated by linguists of the Shina language as well as many others in the region.